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A character makes an impression by cutting, burning, blasting, or otherwise leaving a symbol on the clothes, wall, or person of their nemesis. Thankfully (for them), they never have to deal with paying for the damage they just inflicted.
A Subtrope of the Calling Card.
- Corny Snaps was a Kellogg's breakfast cereal created in 1975 featuring Snappy the Turtle, a Zorro like character, with mask, sword and steed, who delivered his corny-oats "S" shaped cereal to the masses, while carving his trademark "S" as he went.
Anime & Manga
- Bubblegum Crisis: The Knight Sabers usually leave their name burned into the concrete after taking out a rogue Boomer. Nene's suit actually has a laser for which this is the only real use (it's not much as a weapon).
- Voltes V does this with his signature move, where he carves a big "V" into the enemy, who promptly explodes.
- In Dragon Half, Mink's father's signature technique carved an "R" on his enemies. Dick Saucer's carved an "S" (Which one opponent thought was a "5").
- Batman, being a Zorro fanboy, does this on occasion. During Batman No Mans Land he spray-painted his symbol on the walls of areas of Gotham he'd liberated from his Rogues Gallery, and in The Dark Knight Strikes Again he uses the sharp edge of a batarang to carve a Zorro style Z on Lex Luthor's face.
- He and Robin also spray explosive gel on walls and floors in the shape of their symbols in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City.
- Batman foe Anarky typically leaves the anarchy symbol painted on the wall at the scene of his crimes.
- The Cavalier appearing in a 5 page back-up story in Batman Adventures #1. His portrayal was a cross between Robin Hood and Zorro, in stealing from those he perceives rich and slashing his sword in that person's clothes.
- Lobster Johnson, from the Hellboy 'verse, burns his Claw of Justice on the foreheads of those he kills.
- In the Asterix comic book album Asterix and Caesar's Gift, Asterix duels with a Roman and makes the iconic Z mark on his tunic, all the while exchanging half-assed quips, in the best Zorro tradition.
- X, of Dark Horse's Comics Greatest World, uses an X mark.
- Kaine from Spider-Man uses his wall-sticking powers on your face and pulls his hand away, resulting in the disfiguring "Mark of Kaine." Yeeowch. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the person he's doing this to is typically already dead.
- The Phantom and his skull ring. This was busted, as far as application through direct force was concerned, on Myth Busters, although they didn't take into account indention through other means, such as the ring on the Phantom's left hand, that he uses to leave a "Good Mark" on those he protects.
- According to the new Dynamite The Last Phantom series the mark is caused by an allergic reaction from berries that the signets of the rings are dabbed with, creating an indelible tattoo.
- A short Lucky Luke story features a Zorro parody, whose mark is an "X" instead of a "Z" because he can't read or write.
- In his early tales, Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, would often lay out a villain with a left haymaker that'd leave, at least temporarily, the imprint of his ring on their cheek.
- Wonder Woman will apparently be doing this with her bracelets as of the JMS retool, as a way of letting her enemies know she's getting closer.
- The cover of Knights of the Dinner Table #26 "The Mask of El Ravager" show what happens when the Knights attempt this stunt.
- The Secret Life of the Backyard Kids: Jorge does this a couple times on Tiffany, and when he destroys his dad's car, he does this on the seat of his car.
Films -- Animation
- Puss-N-Boots homages this in Shrek 2 by slashing a "P" in a tree.
- Considering his voice actor is Antonio Banderas, who also played Zorro...
- In Howls Moving Castle the Witch of the Waste sends Howl a 'scorching love note' via Sophie, which falls on the breakfast table when Howl touches it and burns a scorch mark on the table. However, the permanent marking is averted when Howl proceeds to declare the mark 'not good for the table' and wiped it away with his bare hand.
Films -- Live Action
- In Takashi Miike's Zebraman, the eponymous hero carves a Z into a giant, gelatinous alien's forehead.
- In the 2006 film adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta, the masked, black-clad protagonist, overtly identified with the imagery of Guy Fawkes, carves his "V" symbol in Zorro-like style.
- Of course, parodied in Zorro, The Gay Blade; the main character does this with a whip. And not just a "Z" either, the whole name.
- Also, the first time Zorro makes this mark with a blade, a witness mistakes it for the number 2.
- Eric in the first The Crow movie, uses gasoline and matches to trace a flying bird in the street.
- The Mask of Zorro: Alejandro Murrieta, the new boy, puts his own spin on it, cutting an "M" into the cheek of the man who murdered his brother.
- And who could possibly forget the epic "He's Back!" announcement made by the original Zorro in the same film: when he burned a giant Z right into the countryside for his archenemies to witness.
- In the movie Daredevil, the Daredevil writes 'DD' in oil or petroleum on the floor of the place he last attacked. When a policeman tells a reporter that there's no evidence his "so-called Daredevil was even involved", the reporter lights it up. It's odd, though, how he writes it so neatly and in such a fancy way when he's blind.
- Mocked on Robot Chicken, where Daredevil visits the site hours earlier just so he can meticulously set up his "flaming Ds".
- In Inglourious Basterds, the Basterds carve swastikas into the foreheads of any Nazis they let live. "We like our Nazis in uniform. That way we can spot 'em just like that. We're gonna give you something you can't take off."
- In the The Punisher movie starring Thomas Jane, he arranged for the car dragging the big bad to ignite and explode cars in a parking lot in the shape of his trademark skull.
- Zorro, of course, is the Trope Namer.
- Pulp magazine hero The Spider used to leave a red-ink "spider" impression (known as the Spider's Seal) on the foreheads of the criminals he slew.
- The Penetrator, Mark Hardin, left behind blue arrowheads.
- Rashel Jordan, from the Night World series, leaves three claw marks on the foreheads of vampires that she's slayed.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant, Springheeled Jack made the sign of the "S".
- The Gray Seal left behind stickers.
- The Saint left behind haloed stick figures.
- Kissin' Kate Barlow from Holes applied lipstick and kissed the men she killed.
- In Maria V. Snyder's Study Trilogy, the Ixian master assassin Valek leaves a carved statue of an animal for his next victim to find when he's about to kill them.
- In Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy, Capricorn's men always hang a dead rooster in the razed ruins of the buildings they destroy.
Live Action TV
- Naturally, Disney's live-action Zorro series had this in spades.
- In the last anime training video for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, The good captain "Leaves a message" in the side of Castle Volcania starts at about 6:50.
- Eureka: In a dream sequence, Zorro-style hero Douglas Fargo slices an "F" into the dress of fair maiden Jo Lupo.
- The 3rd series of UK comedy sketch show Alexei Sayles Stuff had a title sequence that was a parody of Zorro ("This fat renegade carves a 'B' with his blade, a 'B' that stands for 'Bastard'")
- "R.I.P. MacGyver" blowtorched onto the main character's house's wall is an excellent clue to the villain's identity. You could forget the guy's voice and never see his face and you'd still always recognize Murdoc.
- Clark in Smallville has recently started doing this with his
not yetfamous \S/.
- Done, in spirit at least, by the Season 1 Farscape finale. Because nothing says "John Crichton was here" better than setting an entire planet's atmosphere on fire.
- Used as a title reference in the original V TV miniseries, when a Holocaust survivor shows some taggers how to spray-paint a V ("For Victory") on one of the aliens' propaganda-posters. The practice spreads, becoming a symbol of La Résistance.
- The titular Kamen Rider Kiva has his sigil forming out of his Rider Kick (Darkness Moon Break) in any solid surface the hapless Monster of the Week happens to be in (be it a wall, floor or the street). The Movie even has him plastering the Big Bad (of the movie at least) and forming his sigil as a giant crater on the moon which, fortunately dissipated immediately.
- In the Castle episode "Heroes & Villains", the vigilante Lone Justice carves an 'L' into the butt cheek of a mobster with a sword.
- The Green Hornet carried seals which he used to mark his presence when it suited his purposes, such as on documents at crime scenes, on the bodies of criminals he captured and left for the police to find, etc. Occasionally facsimiles of the Hornet's seal were used by criminals in attempts to pin the blame for their malfeasance on the Green Hornet. It never worked.
- Carried over into movie serial, television, and comic book adaptations of the property.
- The Initial Carving technique in GURPS: Martial Arts.
- In Seventh Sea, with the right sword schools, you get a skill knack for doing just that.
- Sly Cooper leaves his calling card behind in some places.
- In Command and Conquer Generals, the American Particle Beam Cannon can not only be set to hit a single point, you can also designate a second point that the beam will move towards. And you can build multiple cannons. It's one thing to way "Fuck you" to an enemy over chat, and quite another to burn it into their base. Best colossal waste of taxpayers money ever.
- Dominic Deegan's father has a habit of doing this. At one point, he actually gets into trouble.
- In The Elaborate Art Of Play a security team tracks "the hostile" by seeking the distinctive round holes it burns through bulkheads. Timing these, from signals such as temperature, reveals the bad-guy's path through their ship. And they track its target by cataloging his characteristic petty vandalism, and the speech patterns he introduced into the ship's populace.
- Darkbind did this once in his first appearance in Sonichu
- Chris does this with a Devil Troll in the "last" issue.
- There is a serial on the animated cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show that features a mysterious character called "The Mark of Zero". His trademark is stamping the numeral 0 in unexpected places. For example, the score late in a baseball game is 9 to 1. The "Mark of Zero" changes this to 10 to 9 -- to everyone's amazement. At the story's conclusion, his talent for stamping "zero" is put to good use as he becomes the scorekeeper for the New York Mets major league baseball team, at that time the symbol of futility in that sport.
- In an episode of The Simpsons entitled "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", the Simpsons go to the movies to see The Poke of Zorro. In it Zorro fights The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, unseen ninjas and challenges The Scarlet Pimpernel to a duel. Inspired by Zorro, Homer defends Marge, challenging Snake to a duel by slapping him with a glove. Victorious, Homer marks Marge's dress with an "H" scrawled out in ketchup.
- One episode of Justice League has Green Lantern John Stewart punching Despero so hard it leaves the lantern imprint. On his third eye.
- The Super Mario Bros Super Show did this in their own parody with Mario taking the role of "Zero", leaving zeroes on his enemies shirts with his plumber's snake. Luigi, taking the role of "Zero Plus One", was very pleased when he managed to pull one off.
- Futurama plays this one straight, in a session of Let's You and Him Fight Zoidberg carves a Z Fry's shirt, and then he adds Dr. above it.
- One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog tells the story of the cast's Identical Ancestors in the Old West. Eustace's ancestor was a bandit named The Whip who was quite proficient with his Weapon of Choice, even leaving a Zorro-style "W" on the clothing of his victims.
- The Looney Tunes Show: Speedy leaves 'S's behind after his cheese thefts in "Queso Bandito".
- Bill Bryson has mentioned being inspired to try and learn this skill by the Zorro serials he watched as a kid. He and a friend tried to imitate it with a steak knife but gave up after they kept cutting each others chests.